n today’s music industry, it’s all about now – you are only as hot as your last single. Enter Common with a different goal in mind: To make timeless
music. This time in particular, Common was inspired by the death of the great J-Dilla
who had sought to produce his own version of Forever
music and whose music lives beyond his death.
But before Common begins this quest on Finding Forever, his seventh studio album, he has a couple of people/issues he needs to address which he does with “Start The Show”; and it is a hell of a way to start an album. Here Common spits some fiery rhymes attacking the Hip-Hop game - “Hot for a minute, now you just a remember him/ I been a master since P was No Limitin…” - and ends the first verse with “…you sing along wit it inside you knowin its whack/young who, oh he da openin’ act”. No names, no specific criticisms but there are several people who could possibly take offense, and if you take offense, then perhaps you should step up your game.
Forever also finds Common teamed again with fellow Chicagoan Kanye West. Any Hip-Hop head over the age of 25 probably cringed after hearing “The People” when Common said he found the new Primo. Say what you will about Kanye – he’s full of himself, he’s too cocky, his beats are like clichés – when he sits down and concentrates on full albums, he doesn’t miss. The same is true with this effort. Kanye even added different elements to his usual signature sound opting for heavier drum tracks – no doubt inspired by Dilla’s weighty drums.
If you are as talented an emcee/artist as Common, then it is pretty much impossible not to rip the mic. Common flips many different styles throughout the album which is always a treat because few can do it like he can on that level. However, on “I Want You”, produced by Will.I.Am, Common focuses more on his style/flow than the rhymes when, at the end of the first 2 verses, he rhymes the same word repeatedly. He does so again on “Misunderstood” but this time, the words have double meaning. Comm says, “…She thought back to when she was at Howard and/ dreams of doin’ scenes with Terrance Howard and…” then he comes with “…cats puttin’ paper where she put powder in/ life would break her now she powderin.” Instead of coming off as shallow and unskilled, Comm flips this overused rhyme-style in a clever way. Finding Forever doesn’t feature Common at the peak of his emcee prowess much the same way a veteran ball player isn’t as athletic in his 30s as he was in his mid-20s. Finding Forever isn’t an album of dexterous rhyme-flipping but the work of a veteran emcee spitting well-crafted lyrics and detailed narratives on substantial subjects.
Common’s signature narratives are all over the album. On “Drivin’ Me Wild”, featuring Lily Allen, Common offers three different stories that are not specific to anyone or anything but grant insight into how the weight of societal norms and media are crushing and can drive someone wild. “U, Black Maybe” is especially profound and relevant because Common spits on the duality of being black (in this case, a black athlete), wanting to leave the ghetto, but still feeling drawn to it because it made the individual what he is, and in the end, it’s what bites him in the ass. It seems especially noteworthy given the firestorm surrounding Mike Vick.
Only time will tell how much of forever Finding Forever will be.